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  • Tracy Hooper

Start a Conversation with a Compliment

How do you start a conversation?

No matter your industry or profession, you can start any conversation by practicing the golden rule of The Confidence Project: Treat everyone as if they are the most important person in the room. And they are, no matter where you are.

And remember this: Everybody’s favorite subject is themselves!

One of my favorite ways to start a conversation is to give a compliment. Everybody loves a compliment.

Years ago, my dear friend, Miriam Thornburg who was 88 and elegant told me, “If ­you can’t think of anything to say to someone, tell them, ‘I like your shoes!’”

A longtime executive at HBO, however, told me the opposite. He said, “I never compliment my colleagues on their looks or what they are wearing. I compliment them on their or effort or accomplishments: a creative idea, a solid presentation, a promotion, or meeting a tight deadline.”

Try these compliments:  

“We haven’t met in person, but I heard your speech at the company all-hands, and I appreciated your message. I’m Tracy Hooper with The Confidence Project.”

“Hi Julie. I saw on LinkedIn that you made the President’s Circle. It’s great to congratulate you in person. I’m Tracy Hooper.”

You can also compliment people on the traits you admire about them. They are a great teammate, a fierce competitor, resilient, respectful, accountable, transparent, flexible, generous. 

Every situation is unique. Use your judgment and access how well you know a person to decide the kind of compliment you want to give them. And it very well may be, “Congratulations for publishing your book.” Or “Your strategic thinking is really helpful for our team.” Or “I like your shoes!”

Find ways to genuinely compliment people. I believe, we can all use a boost these days.

Thanks for reading.

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